A Missouri utility has filed an software with the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to construct a $1.5 billion wind energy venture and speed up the closure of a coal-fired energy plant. Empire District Electric Co. on October 31 requested the PSC to approve its plan, citing price financial savings for patrons of greater than $300 million over 20 years.
The firm estimates its prices for continued coal-fired era on the 213-MW Asbury Generating Station in Asbury, Missouri, can be about one-third greater than the price for wind era. Empire has filed plans with regulators in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma so as to add 800 MW of wind energy era capability. The firm mentioned it has lease choices on 40,000 acres of land in southwest Missouri the place it may construct wind farms.
Empire, an investor-owned utility primarily based in Joplin, Missouri, and a subsidiary of Liberty Utilities Co., serves about 215,000 prospects in these 4 states.
In an electronic mail to POWER, David Swain, the utility’s president, mentioned “We are happy to place ahead this initiative which demonstrates an modern method to scale back vitality prices for our prospects, whereas supporting our area by investing domestically.”
The firm upgraded the Asbury coal-fired plant in 2015 to adjust to emissions guidelines, and firm officers mentioned one other $25 million in upgrades, together with a brand new landfill, can be required to maintain the plant working into 2019, when it was scheduled to be closed. The new plan would eradicate these extra prices. That scheduled 2019 closure is 15 years sooner than the plant’s authentic working timeline. The firm mentioned about 55 staff on the coal plant can be affected by the closure.
The PSC should rule on the brand new plan by June 30, 2018. Empire officers on Tuesday mentioned the wind farm venture would come with an fairness partnership that may use $800 million in federal tax incentives, placing the corporate’s funding within the plan at $700 million. The utility makes use of some wind energy by energy buy agreements, however has mentioned it may well additional reduce prices by constructing its personal wind farms within the area.
Empire wants to finish the plan by 2020 earlier than the tax incentives expire.
Julie Maus, the utility’s director of company communications, mentioned in an electronic mail to POWER that the transition from coal-fired energy to wind energy would save Empire’s residential prospects $10 every month on their electrical payments beginning in 2020.
Blake Mertens, vice chairman of electrical operations for Empire, informed reporters on October 31 that modifications to the coal plant had been deliberate in 2010, when “pure fuel costs had been double to triple what they’re as we speak and wind vitality was double to triple [today’s cost]. With these drastic adjustments out there, we’ve determined to re-look at our era portfolio and discover one of the best answer for our prospects going ahead.”
Empire mentioned coal-fired era made up 95% of its portfolio 20 years in the past, however the brand new plan would scale back that determine to 21% by 2023.
—Darrell Proctor is a POWER affiliate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).
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